Nicaragua Boycotts Aid to Hurricane Victims
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo January 12, 2021
Daniel Ortega insists on controlling humanitarian aid in emergency situations. He recently blocked the actions of civil organizations to deliver medicine, clothing, and food aid to thousands of people affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota in Nicaragua, between November 3-16, 2020.
“The Ortega regime has hidden information, has forsaken thousands of families who lost their income, has sabotaged support activities carried out by the civil society, and has aggravated the situation of thousands of vulnerable families,” the nongovernmental organization The Blue and White National Unity (UNAB, in Spanish), the largest opposition movement in Nicaragua, said on November 28, according to the EFE news agency.
“The Ortega regime has hidden information, has forsaken thousands of families who lost their income, has sabotaged support activities carried out by the civil society, and has aggravated the situation of thousands of vulnerable families,” nongovernmental organization The Blue and White National Unity.
The state’s response capacity is minimal, because the regime cut the National Disaster Prevention System budget in favor of the police and the army, the UNAB added.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota’s torrential rains flooded homes, forced families to evacuate, destroyed roads, and caused landslides. The storms left a death toll of at least 16 and a financial loss of millions of dollars in Nicaragua, the country most devastated by Iota, the German news network Deutsche Welle reported on November 18.
In addition, “despite the damage that Eta left behind, the regime [is] repressing expressions of solidarity, sending its police forces to prevent people from delivering their donations or to evacuate what had already been collected,” the Nicaraguan newspaper Confidencial reported on November 5.
For example, “[on November 22], Nicaraguan Catholic communities collected aid for hurricane victims, which was given ‘in secret’ by donors,” the Vatican-based news agency Agenzia Fides reported. “The donations are linked to […] threats by the Nicaraguan police against those who collected aid for the victims.”
On November 2, the Nicaraguan Medical Unit said that the regime’s police and parapolice forces denied its doctors access to facilities to continue stockpiling medicine and supplies. “We reiterate that solidarity is a human value par excellence; exercising it is a universal right that should not be hindered under any circumstances, least of all by a State,” the institution published.
While Ortega represses internal solidarity, the Nicaraguan people are receiving external solidarity in the aftermath of the hurricanes. The U.S. government announced on November 18 through its ambassador in Nicaragua, Kevin K. Sullivan, that it would deliver an additional $1.5 million through international humanitarian organizations, “to provide vital assistance to the communities in Nicaragua most affected by Hurricane Eta and now Hurricane Iota.”